The joy of a good photo is endless. In many ways, a good photo requires a lot of work and focus. Photographers often use a DSLR, a professional camera that is unlike the camera in your smartphone. These are the kind of camera’s where the photographer can adjust lots of settings to influence the photo.

For instance, as a photographer, I can work with the aperture settings to influence the depth of field in a photo. With a small aperture the result will be a large depth of field. In a photo that shows a landscape the full breadth and depth of the landscape will be available. The viewer can see a large amount of details in such a photo.

With a large aperture I choose to make the foreground crystal clear and sharp, while the background can be blurry and hardly recognizable. The background is still there and not disturbing the picture; the viewer’s attention is immediately drawn to the in-focus foreground.

The aperture settings in a photo act like a kind of filter: as a photographer, I am making a clear choice what to focus on and what to leave out of the picture.

In your daily work environment you also have a wide array of details available. Attractive details, important details, disturbing details, annoying details… All kind of details that can influence your effectiveness in work.

Like with photography, also in your daily work you can filter by applying a proverbial aperture. When you don’t filter, it will be like a landscape photo, with lot’s of details to influence your effectiveness. You are then in small aperture mode, which for many people is their “default” mode.

On the other hand, you can apply a large aperture and make a conscious choice about your focal point. The other elements will still be there and will not be disturbing your focus; you choose what to focus on.

The difference with photography is, that the photographer only has to apply the aperture for a photo once while creating the photo. The filter has been set and when the photo is taken the result is fixed. However, in your daily work, you are the photographer and your environment will not be fixed. You will need to apply your filter yourself and you need to apply it continuously.

Turning off notifications for new email and apps like Twitter and WhatsApp, is a way of applying a large aperture filter in your work. Also asking yourself the simple question “should I be doing this” every now and then or “should I be doing this now” will be a way of filtering and will help you to focus.

Focus in your work is most importantly a matter of choosing what not to do and what not to pay attention to.